THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Remembering 2013

JANUARY: Following up with December’s back-to-school shopping, the new year started off with house visits, mainly to settle the children’s fees and workbooks.

FEBRUARY: Other than my voluntary work routine (clinic duties), my other activities in February were more personal. Needing an adventure somehow as my kind of “break”, started off the month going caving in Gua Batu Maloi, Negri Sembilan.

caving

It was also in February that we had a kenduri tahlil for my beloved arwah mother. May Allah bless her soul.

MARCH: Quite a busy month. started off with a briefing in Taiping, given to some health department staff, explaining to them on what we Buddies do.

Then my family headed off to Kota Bharu, for my nephew’s engagement.

engagement

Also held in March was something which I had never imagined I’d be joining. Somehow some of the TKCOGA committee members managed to coax me to represent my alumni for an inter-alumni quiz. I thought (and I still think) I was the wrong choice. It was a fun quiz nonetheless, filled with laughter, and we ended up as 1st runners-up of the 4 teams participating.

quiz

Buddies AGM was also held in March. It being a committee election year, again I was given the task to head Buddies them, although I did inform the volunteers that I hoped this would be my last term as the chairperson.

APRIL: Another adventure for my kinda break. This time it was the Extreme Challenge at Skytrex Adventure, Shah Alam.

skytrex1

MAY: Visited the new TKC in Enstek for the first time.

enstek

Gave a briefing to health department staff in Ipoh (similar to the one I gave in Taiping earlier).

Chaired the TKCOGA committee elections during the AGM in Putrajaya.

agm

Gave a talk on HIV/AIDS to students of SMK Seri Intan, Ipoh.

talk

And the most awaited moment for me (especially since I was the main organiser) was a reunion for my TKC batchmates of SPM1980.

reunion

JUNE: A post-reunion reunion of my batchmates, this time at the home of one of the gang in Hulu Langat.

lunch

JULY: Attended the International AIDS Society Conference in KL Convention Centre. Although it was more of a scientific conference (which is out of my league), I picked and chose the sessions that I would be able to comprehend most. Whatever it is, I still need to update myself with the latest happenings in the world of HIV.

IAS

AUGUST: Set up a booth during a social & medical health exhibition in Buntong, Ipoh.

SEPTEMBER: Buddies Family Day at Lost World of Tambun.

Cuti-cuti Malaysia for my sister and I. Tried snorkelling for the first time ever.

Went white water rafting in Gopeng.

Set up an exhibition booth during the UniKL-RCMP Ipoh Open Day.

Took part in a charity walkathon… Walk of Hope… in Putrajaya Wetlands.

OCTOBER: Went to Kota Bharu again with the whole family for my nephew’s wedding.

kbwedding

Set up another exhibition booth, this time for the Pink October Carnival at Polo Ground, Ipoh.

pink october

NOVEMBER: Another wedding reception for my nephew, this time in Teluk Intan.

tiwedding

Also took part in another walkathon, in conjunction with World Diabetes Day.

Attended the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Bangkok Thailand.

DECEMBER: My usual back-to-school shopping marathon. 23 families. 53 children. 6 different shopping complexes. Over RM12K spent.

Photo0762

Joined efforts with Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh for this year’s World AIDS Day.

Buddies year-end appreciation dinner this time was held at David’s Diner, Greentown, Ipoh.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Clinic Duties

I was in Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh yesterday for my clinic duty. But when I arrived at the ID clinic, I couldn’t seem to find anyone in any of the 2 rooms. So I went straight to the registration counter in front, and finally saw SN there. She told me there’re no new cases for the whole week.

Since there weren’t many cases, SN wasn’t as busy as she usually would be. So both of us took the opportunity to discuss some cases… those needing help, those who have been defaulting their appointments etc.

Today, I was on clinic duty again. This time in Taiping. In contrast to the Ipoh ID clinic which didn’t have too many cases, the clinic in Taiping today was rather busy. Actually when I was there for the last clinic duty earlier this month, I got the nurse to confirm that there would indeed be ID clinic in Taiping on the 24th of December. It being the day before Christmas, I was concerned if the clinic would be cancelled. They had done that before (cancelling clinics) without informing us and we ended up going to Taiping Hospital for nothing.

The first case referred to us today was a guy who had earlier worked in KL but is now back in his hometown to stay with his parents. So it wasn’t really a new case. After finding out that he had earlier worked with an organisation dealing with HIV, and as a matter of fact he had previously attended international conferences on HIV/AIDS, I figured he would be a good candidate for us to pull in for our activities. He too seemed to love the idea. Much better than staying at home doing nothing.

While waiting for the next case to be referred, I overheard the nurse calling out a very familiar name. Hey, that’s my client’s name! So I went out to look for her and there she was at one of the benches, waiting for the nurse to give back her appointment card. After a while, all her 4 daughters came by. By now I’m already a familiar face to them, having taken them shopping for their schooling needs for a few years already since they are all under our Sponsorship Programme.

While I was having a chat with her, another lady sat beside me. I took a look at her, and whaddaya know, another client of mine with one of her daughters. Also a recipient of our Sponsorship Programme.

Then suddenly another familiar-looking lady walked by. This time another client whom I had not met for quite some time. None other than Yah, a client who had appeared rather frequently in my earlier blog postings. When I was first assigned as her client, her youngest was still a baby. Now the youngest girl is already in school, and doing quite well too, getting 1st in class in her last school exams.

After meeting all three of them, I went back into the make-shift counselling room (it’s actually the prayer room) to wait for the next case to be referred. Another guy was referred to us this time, but he was more interested to find out if we could give him financial assistance. Being single, never married, no kids etc, there wasn’t really much Buddies could offer in that matter. We do have our own funds for children education, but other than that, we can only suggest to them where they can get help.

The last case was that of a young lady in her early 20’s. I was told by the nurse that she’s a single mother, so I thought she may need help for her children. But when I talked to the girl, she told me she’s married but husband is confirmed negative and she no longer has a child. Apparently, she found out about her hiv infection AFTER she delivered. It was an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and she never went for proper check-up at any clinics and hence, wasn’t aware that she was infected until after the delivery. The baby had complications, and eventually died. So where does the husband come in? Well, they only met each other during her 7th month of pregnancy, and the guy still wanted to marry her.

So those were the 3 cases referred. Actually there were quite a few new cases today, but unlike the nurses at the Ipoh ID clinic who’d refer all new cases to us, in Taiping the nurses used a different approach. They actually ask the new patients if they wanted to see Buddies, an NGO. So some patients, feeling uncomfortable, refused to see us before we even had the chance to have a chat with them.

That’s the last clinic duty in Taiping for this year. One more clinic duty in Ipoh next week before the year ends.. and based on what SN told me yesterday, there are a few cases they need to refer to me this time.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Another busy week

After the first 4 rounds of back-to-school shopping the week before, last week started off with my usual clinic duty at HRPB, Ipoh on Monday. While there was supposed to be one new case to be referred, the patient did not turn up and so I ended up just discussing some matters with the doctors and the staff nurse.

On Tuesday, HRPB organised an event in conjunction with World AIDS Day. Other than an exhibition on HIV/AIDS, there were also quizzes for the public, and a colouring competition for children. Buddies too were invited to take part.

Then on Wednesday, I proceeded with the next round of back-to-school shopping, this time in Ipoh with 2 families – Mas and Fuzi. Both with 3 schooling children each. Well, actually Fuzi’s youngest son, Iwan, who is 7 this year, is still not able to go to a proper school because of his status. You see, being born without a father (Fuzi claimed she was raped – this was after the father to her other children passed away) and having a mother who holds a foreign passport and doesn’t even have PR status, Iwan is not accepted at any government schools. If Fuzi has at least PR status, the boy can at least go to school but needs to pay more.

Fuzi did apply for PR status, but her application was not approved because although her late husband ie the father to her other 4 children, was a Malaysian citizen, Fuzi was already widowed by the time she submitted her application. So now the boy only goes to a nearby Sekolah Agama in the afternoon.

On Thursday I went to Cameron Highlands to bring the children of 2 more families shopping for their schooling needs. Although CH is in Pahang, cases in CH are referred to HRPB Ipoh, and so Buddies services also cover clients in CH as well. 5 more children this time.

I took a break on Friday, resting at home and continued with my last round of back-to-school shopping on Saturday in Batu Gajah. This time 10 children from 5 families.

So yes, I’ve completed this year’s back-to-school shopping. 23 families. 53 children. 6 shopping complexes. RM12,111 spent.

Am not sure if the volunteers have done their part for the children of their needy clients (it shouldn’t be too difficult, I don’t think they need to shop for any more than 5 children each), but for me (mind you I don’t like shopping!) it was quite an achievement. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined I would one day shop for 53 children. Phew!

And what a way to celebrate my “achievement”. Completed my back-to-school shopping in the afternoon, and later in the evening, it was the Buddies Year-End Appreciation diiner, this time held at David’s Diner.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

4 rounds of shopping and a wedding

All the above within a week… all Buddies-related.

As it had always been for the past few years, every December I’d be busy taking children of my clients out shopping for their schooling needs. Initially I used to take out one family at a time (easier to handle), but year after year, I kept getting more and more schooling children assigned to me, and so taking them out one family at a time wasn’t practical anymore. I simply didn’t have enough time to bring all the families out separately.

So, since the past 2 years, I decided to take them out one group at a time. I fix one day for the group from Larut Matang area, one day for the group from Perak Tengah and so on.

I started off on Wednesday with the group from Kampar district. 5 children from 2 families. 3 girls and 2 boys.

Shopping for the group from Larut Matang district had been scheduled for Saturday. However, one family asked if theirs could be done on another day since they had a close relative’s kenduri they needed to attend on Saturday. Since I was on clinic duty in Taiping on Thursday, I told them to meet me at the departmental store in Taiping at 2pm on Thursday. So yes, round 2 was for this family of 2 children. 1 girl and 1 boy.

Round 3 was on Friday, for the group from northern part of Ipoh. 9 children from 4 families. 7 boys and 2 girls. The supermarket we went to for this one gave free calendars – one free calendar for a certain amount spent. And while each of my clients got to bring home a few calendars each, I got to bring home the bulk of them. The cashier had to give me a plastic bag just to put in the calendars!

Round 4 was today, Saturday, for 14 children from 6 families. 10 girls and 4 boys.

So yep, covered 30 children within a week. About RM7K spent so far. And I’m not done yet. 3 more rounds of shopping scheduled for next week.

For someone who doesn’t like shopping, that’s quite an achievement.

Anyway, after today’s shopping, I headed home for my zuhr prayer first, then immediately went out again, this time to attend the wedding of Lin’s daughter. Remember Lin? Ex-wife of Mr Darling? Her 3rd daughter got married today (3rd daughter but first wedding in the family).

When Lin sent me the SMS inviting me to the kenduri, I had already planned for the back-to-school shopping in Taiping. So I told her I’d be late for the wedding. Which was a good thing actually. When I got to her house, it was almost 3pm, and while the family of the groom was still there, at least it was no longer peak period and so Lin and her children weren’t too busy.

Lin’s eldest daughter gave me a big smile when she saw me. “Lamanya tak nampak!” she said. True enough, it had been quite a while since I last went to visit them. My style is to visit my clients frequently when they need help the most, and subsequently reduce my visits when I see them becoming more and more independent. And Lin’s family has definitely become independent now.

Her eldest daughter is working, the 2nd daughter just completed her degree in medicine, the 3rd daughter (who is also already working) just got married today. Her 4th and 5th, both boys, didn’t do well academically, but are both now working to at least be independent enough not to rely too much on their mother. Only one more, the youngest girl, who is still schooling. She will be sitting for her SPM next year. I hope she will follow in her sisters’ footsteps and further her studies after SPM.

And oh, yes, Mr Darling was there at the kenduri today. Smile

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Sofie’s Children

As usual, during the year-end school holidays, I’d be arranging for the children’s back-to-school shopping. With children from so many families to deal with, I have decided to settle things during the first 2 weeks of December.

So yes, after I got back from Bangkok, I’ve been contacting the clients to arrange for a suitable day and place to bring the children shopping for next year’s schooling needs. I’ve got quite a packed schedule for the next 2 weeks to cover clients from different districts.

For the past few years, I’ve brought Sofie’s children out to shop for their schooling needs. When Sofie was alive, she’d tag along. Last year however, was the first time I brought the 2 younger children, Saiful and Ika, without anyone from the family accompanying them. Their aunt, who took over as their guardian after Sofie’s death, had to work and so I had to fetch them at home, assist them with their purchases, and send them back home.

A few months back, I had a shock when I was told by Rozi, the children’s aunt, that Saiful didn’t even sit for his PMR this year as he ran away from home after getting a scolding from his aunt for missing school quite often.

So this time when I wanted to arrange for the children’s back-to-school shopping, I knew I only needed to arrange only for the youngest girl, Ika. I asked Rozi if she wanted to buy first for Ika and claim later, or if she wanted me to bring Ika shopping.

Again I got another shock. Rozi said it would be better if she buys the things for Ika as they had moved back to their kampong, which is further away now and it would be troublesome for me to go.

Apparently, after Saiful ran away from home, Rozi and her husband often took emergency leave to go look for Saiful. As a result, both of them (they both work at the same factory) were sacked. Jobless, they decided to go back to their kampong, where they don’t have to pay rental staying in the old family home. Which means Ika too had to be transferred to a new school.

I told Rozi to post the receipts to me to enable me to reimburse her for the expenses. According to Rozi, the monthly help she had been getting (from a donor, banked into her account through me) she’d usually use for Azlan, the eldest boy who is now studying in IKM. Although the boy does get help from Tabung Kemahiran, the amount is insufficient.

With Azman (the culinary boy) sticking to his ego and not wanting to go back to his family, followed by Saiful running away from home after that scolding, God knows where the 2 boys are now. Rozi now has to pay more attention to Azlan, the eldest (who had undergone positive changes) and the youngest girl, Ika. Despite the children not being her own, and despite all the problems they had been giving her, Rozi has not given up on them.

Me? I once promised Sofie that as long as the children wants to study, I’d find ways and means to help them out with their education expenses. There’s not much I can do for Azman and Saiful now, so I shall just continue to monitor Azlan’s and Ika’s progress.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

ICAAP 11, Bangkok 18–22 November 2013

6 volunteers from Buddies attended the 11th International Congress on Aids in Asia & the Pacific in Bangkok last week.

Targeting triple zeros… zero new hiv infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, zero stigma & discrimnation.

At Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre:

E-posters…

Performance during the opening ceremony…

Welcome reception at Soi Cowboy…

The mascot

Exhibition booths

Presentations during the various sessions…

Friday, 25 October 2013

When things don’t go as planned

It had been quite a while since I went to visit my clients. That’s one reason I don’t like being the chairperson of Buddies… I seem to have less time for home-visits and need to spend more time on admin matters.

After the PMR exams were over recently, I decided to check on some of the children under sponsorship. I remember the late Sofie’s son, Saiful, was supposed to sit for his PMR this year. The last time I went to visit him and his little sister at their aunt’s house, I was aware that Saiful had sort of lost interest in his studies. According to the aunt, sometimes Saiful would skip school just because he felt too lazy to go. He even mentioned that he’d quit school after PMR.

Seeing that his interest lies in the vocational line, I suggested that he applies for vocational school in form four. He seemed excited about it. I did advise him that whatever it was, he must sit for his PMR first.

Usually the aunt would inform me of any updates on the kids. But since I haven’t been getting any updates from her, I thought things were going well.

When it was announced that applications to vocational schools in form 4 for next year was already open online, I decided to check on Saiful to make sure he doesn’t miss the deadline. I sent a text message to the aunt asking if Saiful was still keen to go to a vocational school in form four. Her reply shocked me…

“nak masuk vokasional mcm mana, pmr pun tak ambik.”

When I asked why the boy didn’t sit for his PMR, finally the aunt told me that Saiful had run away from home. Apparently he had been playing truant too often, the aunt scolded him. After the scolding, he simply left home and didn’t come back.

I had always given extra attention to children’s education in my voluntary work. So it’s rather frustrating facing cases like Saiful’s. Before this, his older brother Azman didn’t utilise the opportunity given to him at the culinary school. But at least their eldest brother, Azlan is happy doing his certificate course in IKM and had even expressed his intention to continue up to diploma level.

I can’t expect 100% positive results. I can only try to assist the families, especially the children…

Monday, 14 October 2013

The new case

I was on clinic duty again today at HRPB, Ipoh. I now no longer complain about getting a parking space at the hospital because I no longer drive to the hospital.

So do I take a bus to the hospital? No.

Do I take a cab? No.

Do I cycle to the hospital? No.

Do I walk all the way? No.

I just drive over to the velodrome parking, park my car there, and take the free shuttle van service provided by HRPB. Easy!

There were supposed to be 2 new cases to be referred to Buddies today, but when I arrived at the HIV clinic at about 9.30 am, neither of the new cases were there yet. So I went over to wait at the room provided…

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Usually we’d be sharing the room with pharmacists but today I had the whole room to myself, with some hospital staff coming in from time to time to use the photocopy machine, or to use the staff toilet located in this very same room.

After a while, the nurse came in, telling me that one new case was already at the clinic but I’d still have to wait anyway for the doctor to break the news to the patient first. Apparently the guy had not been told about his HIV (he was earlier warded at the hospital for high fever) and so the doctor had better break the news to him first before they refer the guy to me for support service. Usually for the new cases, they would have already known about their HIV before going for their first appointment at the HIV clinic, and so the nurse could refer cases to Buddies without having to wait for the patients to see the doctor first.

When the nurse finally brought the new case to me, it was already about 11 am. A Malay couple was brought in. The one who had just been told about his HIV was the husband, while the wife, since she too accompanied the husband to the hospital, was there when the doctor broke the news. At least we didn’t have to worry about the husband dilly-dallying about telling his wife, who definitely needs to get tested.

While the wife looked calm, the husband said he wasn’t too happy about the fact nobody had told him about his HIV despite having done blood tests previously. Had he known he wouldn’t have married his present wife (this being the 2nd marriage for the wife who has a 17 year old child from her previous marriage). I told him not every blood test done would check one’s HIV status, unless he specifically requested so, or unless there was a reason to do so.

Anyway, while the wife looked rather calm, I knew she was very worried. Her main concern was of course whether or not she too had been infected. After a while, I could see her eyes were a wee bit teary. I tried my best to convince them that having HIV doesn’t mean life ends there. I gave them examples of some people I know who had been living with HIV and taking their antiretroviral for so many years already, yet looked so normal, nobody would be able to tell they were HIV+.

Both husband and wife were to go down to get their blood tested after seeing me. For the husband, to get his CD4 count. For the wife, to test if she’s HIV positive or otherwise. In 2 weeks time they are supposed to come to the hospital again. By then they will know whether or not the wife is infected as well.

I hope she is spared from the virus, but if indeed she has been infected, it is not the end of the world.

I gave her my number and told her to call me anytime should she need to speak to someone about the matter.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A day (half a day actually) at Taiping Hospital

I now no longer worry about finding a parking space when I go for my clinic duties, be they in Ipoh or in Taiping. For Ipoh clinic duties, I’d just park my car at the velodrome parking and use the free shuttle van service from there. As for Taiping, they do have multi-level parking and so far I have had no problem parking there, although most of the time I’d only be able to find vacant parking space at the 4th or 5th floor of the 6 storey parking.

Today I was on duty for the Taiping ID clinic. I got there quite early, and when I took a peek at the doctor’s room, I was told there’d be one new case to be referred, but as at that moment, the patient was not there yet.

So yep, I headed over to our make-shift counselling room (the prayer room actually) and waited there. While I brought along my YES huddle, and the signal was very clear outside the building, once I got into the building, there was no signal at all. The hospital has its own WIFI, but not knowing the password, I wasn’t able to connect to the internet.

With one less available thing to do while waiting, I ended up playing some word games on my android tablet. After almost 1 1/2 hours of waiting, finally the nurse came to tell me that a patient needed to see Buddies.

In came a lady in her fifties, accompanied by a man of about the same age. When I asked which one was the patient, the guy pointed his finger to the lady.

“Encik ni siapa?”

“Saya suami dia?”

“Encik dah buat ujian darah belum?”

“Belum, nak selesaikan masalah penyakit dia ni dulu, lepas tu baru check saya pulak.”

The moment I started asking some history on how she found out about her HIV, they decided to call their son. Thank goodness, it was much easier to communicate with the son then with the couple.

Apparently this lady already knew about her HIV more than 6 years ago, not long after her first husband passed away. I didn’t ask much about the first husband, but her children were the ones who arranged for their mother to get tested.

So this wasn’t a new case after all. But the lady only went for follow up for a short while and after that stopped going altogether. According to the son, the doctor did mention that the lady’s CD4 was quite low but because she felt okay, she didn’t bother to go for follow up appointments. And when she remarried, she already knew about her HIV but did not inform her 2nd husband.

That was until recently when she started feeling weaker and weaker. When I asked if she had any other illnesses, they all said no, “just HIV”. I guess they didn’t really understand. When I asked if she was already on medication, I was told she needs to take 10 different pills each day. 10? Ahh, so she does have other complications other than (or rather, arising from) HIV.

Anyway, the son wanted me to talk to the mother, to give her some encouragement. I told her she needs to be really disciplined with her medication in addition to seeking help from God. I told her she needed to think positively. She looked like the overly sensitive type of person, and true enough, she herself admitted she’d easily cry if anyone scolded or raised their voice at her. I guess she meant her husband, because immediately her husband said, “alah, biasalah tu, sekali-sekala meninggi suara sikit, dari masa sihat dulu pun memang macam tu.”

I told them I couldn’t help them much. All I could do was give them advice, The rest, was up to them, especially the lady. She did say she wanted to get better, and so I made her promise she’d be positive about the whole thing, adhere to her medication and have faith in God.

It will not be easy, but I do hope she has the right attitude in facing the situation. Her son seemed very supportive, so at least that’s a good sign.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Clinic duty

Our voluntary duties at the ID Clinic at Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun are usually on Wednesdays. In the past, it used to be on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month. Then with special request from the ID Clinic, and with the availability of more teams of volunteers from our side, we started sending volunteers to the ID Clinic every Wednesdays (except the 5th Wednesdays of the months, if any).

However, since last month, the ID Clinic had set the appointments of newly referred cases to either Mondays or Thursdays. That means the chances of us being referred any new cases on Wednesdays are very very slim. There’s no point sending in volunteers when we already know that the chances of being referred any new case is slim.

We don’t have enough volunteers to go for clinic duties twice a week, so going on both Mondays and Thursdays is out of the question. And so, during our Board meeting last month, we decided to opt for Mondays.

So yes, since my clinic duties are on the 2nd and 4th week of each month, yesterday was my first Monday clinic duty. I used to have a terrible time looking for a parking space near the hospital whenever I went for my clinic duties. Then when the hospital started their shuttle van services, seeing that not many people use them, I wasn’t sure if I should use them either.

But the parking nightmare got even worse lately ever since a part of the parking lot at the hospital is no longer available as they are constructing a new building there. People now simply park by the roadside of the busy road in front of the hospital, right to across the road just beside Anderson School. While most people are still not using the free shuttle van services (either they aren’t aware of its existence or they aren’t sure if the service is good enough for them), I no longer wanted to endure all the trouble of finding a parking space for my car. So yep, I have been making full use of the free shuttle van services for quite some time now. All I need to do is to park my car at the velodrome parking (which so happens to be very near my kampong), and take the shuttle van from there. Easy peasy!

Anyway, 2 cases were referred to me yesterday. Both men. One 50 year old man, married but has yet to tell his wife. I told him that his wife not only needed to know, but she’d need to get tested as well. He promised he’d inform his wife ASAP, and I offered him my help, telling him that if his wife needed a woman to talk to, she could count on me. Meanwhile, I have assigned a male volunteer to be his buddy, and I’ve told the assigned volunteer to follow up on him later, to make sure he had indeed informed his wife.

The second case was a young guy, still single. He claimed he only had sex with one girlfriend and he had never taken drugs before. However, when he started getting ill, the girlfriend simply left him and even changed her phone number so he wouldn’t be able to get hold of her.

But while he is staying with his parents, he doesn’t want his parents to know. He doesn’t want his mother to worry.

He does however, need someone to talk to. And that’s where we come in. He welcomed the idea of having a buddy assigned to him. And he welcomed it more when I told him I’d assign an HIV+ volunteer to be his buddy. Someone he can freely talk to about his health condition. Someone he can relate with. Someone he can really open up to.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Buddies & The Lost World

Sunday 1st September 2013 – THE Day for our Family Day. This year, we chose Lost World of Tambun… the 3rd time the park was chosen as our Family Day venue. The first time in 2007, the next one in 2010, and again this year in 2013. Hmmm… looks like a trend for us… every 3 years?

In 2010, we were the Buddiest of ‘em all…

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Suddenly in 2013, we became the Baddies… Smile with tongue out

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Anyway, I was supposed to fetch 3 families from the bus station. 2 needing transport, while another came in their own car but since they’re not familiar with Ipoh (but knows where the bus station is), I only needed one more car to ferry my clients to LWOT. But while waiting for the families, I called up to find out where they were, and one of them said that they’d be late because the public bus at their place had some problems, and so the client told me to go ahead without them and they’d get a taxi once they reached the Ipoh bus station.

Initially during our last meeting, the final count was 110 pax, inclusive of volunteers. Learning from our past events, we never book in full. Usually we’d book for only 80% as there were bound to be last minute cancellations. But since the last time we had our Family Day at LWOT, the turnout was 97%, this year we decided to book for 95 pax out of the 110 who confirmed with us.

Early morning I heard of cancellations from Taiping, and another from Ipoh. By the time I got to LWOT, another volunteer told me 2 of his clients cancelled last minute. Apparently we also had last minute additions as well, but since some of my clients were late, it was quite difficult to determine how many actual attendees there would be and whether we needed to buy extra tickets. They (LWOT) did allow us to buy additional tickets at a discounted rate (which wouldn’t cover lunch – that we would have to buy ourselves from the food stalls) but we could only request for that just once. And since we didn’t want to wait for the latecomers to arrive before allowing the rest to go in, we decided to call the latecomers to give a headcount and then proceeded to buy the discounted tickets. If there were any more additional, we’d have to buy the tickets at the normal price.

So the total number we counted was 111, so we bought an additional 16 tickets at the discounted rate.

The latecomers were my clients, Rin and the K’s who came in 2 cars. It was close to 11 am by the time they arrived, thank goodness we didn’t wait for them before allowing the others to go in. When I went out to pass the tickets to them, we were short of one ticket for a child. So I had buy one child ticket at the normal rate. Not too bad.

That means, the total number of attendees we had yesterday was a record breaking 112, including 12 volunteers, 10 of them in the pic below.

During the morning, I was at our reserved hut most of the time, just overseeing things. Also at the hut most of the time were a few clients of mine, who weren’t the type to go around enjoying themselves whether at the water park or at the theme park, but still came anyway to allow their children to enjoy themselves. A trip which they themselves wouldn’t have been able to afford if they were to come on their own.

It was during the lunch break that we decided to give away the toys I managed to collect from various donors. Of course we allowed the families to have their lunch first, then after one of my volunteers went around to get them to pick their lucky numbers, we gave out the toys (plus some brand new backpacks as well) according to the numbers they themselves picked. I must really thank all the donors of those lovely toys and other gifts. It was obviously our clients were happy with the presents they got to bring home.

We had to buy additional packs of lunch to cover for those we hadn’t covered for earlier. Then after making sure the families had their lunch and given the presents, a few of the volunteers and I headed over to the food stall to have our lunch. The additional packs we had bought earlier were not enough to cover for our own lunch. But hey, there at the food stall we got to choose what we wanted to eat… Winking smile

With the volunteers who had gone round earlier available at our hut after lunch, I decided to go around LWOT on my own after my zohor prayer. My targets were mainly new attractions which I didn’t get to see during our previous Family Day at LWOT. Went to see the team building park…

the Tin Valley…

The mini horses…

Tried out the foot spa…

And tried out the roller coaster ride called Lupe’s Adventure…

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Overall, I’d say it was a success. It wasn’t an easy task organising a Family Day for over 100 people, especially the children at a public place crowded with other groups of people as well, but everything went well and I’m sure the children had a wonderful time.

Thank you to all the volunteers to helped out, and not forgetting, to all donors.